Lansing, Michigan – Manitou Pontoon Boats is delighted to announce that they are once again a recipient of a Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) Award from the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) for exceptional customer service. The 2018 Marine Industry CSI Award in the Pontoon Boats category marks the 18th consecutive CSI awarded to Manitou Pontoon Boats. This makes it every year since the awards inception.
The NMMA, the nation’s leading boating trade association, represents a wide range of businesses in the marine industry. They recognize manufacturers that actively monitor and measure customer satisfaction levels and then take actions to further improve customer satisfaction. The CSI Awards only recognize boating manufacturers that maintain an independently measured standard of excellence of 90 percent or higher in customer satisfaction.
“Receiving the 18th consecutive award is an honor. We have built pontoon boats for over 30 years now; we would not be able to say that without happy customers and the best employees in the industry. The CSI program allows us to monitor our product satisfaction in near real time which is Critical to improvement” said Cory Highfield, General Manager of Manitou Pontoon Boats.
Manitou understands that connecting with its customers to identify their personal needs on their pontoon boats is essential to providing them with the best customer service experience possible. We use this information to more accurately grade a customer’s opinion of their new pontoon boat, and to improve customer satisfaction moving forward.
Launching a boat is something every boater needs to do in order to enjoy a day on the water. As such, everyone owes it to everyone else to know how to do it right and do it quickly. Every second spent dawdling at the launching ramp not only cuts into your day, but into everyone else’s day as well.
Once you get to the launching ramp, it’s too late to cram for your real-life test. By preparing in advance and knowing what to do when, you’ll be able to efficiently launch your boat free of angry horns and shouts from other boaters.
Before you Reach the Launching Ramp
Prepare your boat before you approach the ramp. This ensures when it’s your turn, you’re ready to go without any delay.
- Load your safety equipment, mooring lines, and other gear into the boat.
- Unhook and stow the transom straps.
- Disconnect any incandescent light-bulb plugs.
- Gather your mooring line and fenders, making them ready to use.
- Make sure your drain plug, if your boat has one, is in place.
While On the Launching Ramp
You’ve waited your turn, and ideally everyone in front of you followed all the same steps you’re following, continuing a friendly and efficient day of boat launching. Now, prepare yourself to get your boat into the water.
- Get a spotter. Move all kids and onlookers from the ramp area and put a spotter out there. Launching is easier with one person driving and another directing.
- Situate your vehicle and boat. Line up your vehicle and trailer as straight as possible, about the length of a trailer away from the water.
- Back into the water. Slowly back your trailer down the ramp, only making small, fine-tuned steers. If you need to straighten the trailer, driving forward a bit can be a big help. When the stern begins floating in the water, stop.
- Secure your vehicle. Set the parking brake. If you have an excessively large boat, chock the wheels on your vehicle.
Getting In the Water
At this point, you’re ready to get your boat off the trailer and into the water.
- Unhook the boat. Disconnect the winch strap and safety chain from the trailer. Next, back the boat away from the trailer. When the water is just above the wheels of the trailer, you’re ready for the next step.
- Launch the boat. Start your boat’s engine. Important: make sure the engine is in the water before you crank it. Shift into reverse and gently back up. All Manitou boats have to be powered with the engine into the water off the trailer—you can’t float it back by hand. If, after applying gentle power, your boat doesn’t move, you probably need to back up farther.
Securing the Boat
Now that you’re in the water, tie your mooring lines to the dock. Make sure all your passengers and supplies are nearby and ready to board. By getting everyone and everything on the boat quickly, you show courtesy to other boaters and help keep the launching ramp free of holdups.
While your other passengers are boarding, park your vehicle nearby and make your way back to the boat without delay. Join your family and friends on the boat, untie the mooring lines and off you go.
The latest Evinrude performance reports are out, and we’re excited to share the capabilities of our Manitou pontoon boats. The performance reports test all kinds of watercraft in various conditions and determine the best fuel efficiency, acceleration, and top speed.
In our entire line, Manitou pontoon boats have maximum horsepower ranging from 60 HP (18 Aurora LE Twin Tube) to 800 HP (27 Legacy LT SHP 575 Dual Engine). Our boats average about 165 HP, providing optimum cruising speeds of 25-40 MPH based on the specific length and horsepower combination.
How Fast Will My Pontoon Boat Go?
If you have one of the five models we’re discussing here, we can tell you exactly how fast your pontoon boat will go in conditions similar to those from the test run. In general, there are several factors that affect the maximum velocity of high-speed pontoon boats.
Generally, the more horsepower you have, the faster you can go; however, the size of the boat and its load also affects speed. Larger, heavier boats are slower than smaller boats, although you can make up for the difference by adding more powerful engines.
For more details on what impacts the speed of your boat, take a look at How Fast is a Pontoon Boat?
Sports Handling Package for a Faster, Smoother Ride
Our Sport Handling Package (SHP) is designed to give you maximum maneuverability of your pontoon boat, even at high speeds and in rough waters. With a maximum horsepower of 175-800 HP, positive-angle lifting strakes, and a Barracuda nosecone design, SHP pontoons, in general, can go faster and move smoother than other pontoon boats.
The Latest Evinrude Performance Reports
2018 Manitou 27 X-Plode RFXW
With twin Evinrude G2 300 HP engines
This 600 HP pontoon boat from our line of luxury pontoons was tested last fall in medium-chop water conditions and a wind speed of 10 MPH, registering a top speed of 65 MPH, accelerating at 3.5 seconds to plane. Its best fuel efficiency came in at 2.28 miles per gallon, which means, at 90% fuel capacity, the Manitou 27 X-Plode can travel 185 miles at 29 MPH.
2018 Manitou 25 X-Plode RFXW SHP Dual
With twin Evinrude G2 300 HP engines
Also tested in 10 MPH winds and medium-chop conditions, this 600 HP pontoon boat reached a top speed of 65 MPH, requiring 3.6 seconds to plane. The 25 X-Plode RFXW SHP Dual is another in our line of luxury pontoons and recorded its best fuel efficiency of 2.38 miles per gallon, meaning it can cruise at 31.5 MPH for 193 miles at 90% fuel capacity.
2018 Manitou 23 Encore SHP
With twin Evinrude 150 H.O. engines
A 300 HP pontoon boat, the Manitou 23 Encore SHP was tested in medium chop and in 10 MPH winds. One of the most desirable mid-class luxury pontoons available, the Encore showed the ability to cruise for 230 miles at 30.5 MPH at 90% fuel capacity, and its best fuel efficiency came in at 2.84 miles per gallon. Accelerating at 3.5 seconds to plane, the Encore reached a top speed of 52 miles per hour.
2018 Manitou 25 Legacy RFXW
With twin Evinrude E-TEC 200 H.O. engines
One of the quickest accelerations among Manitou models in the performance reports, the Manitou Legacy 25 RFXW, from our line of luxury pontoons, needed 3.3 seconds to plane. Its top speed was 57 miles per hour, and it recorded an optimal fuel efficiency of 2.57 miles per gallon. At 90% fuel capacity, the 25 Legacy can cruise at 30.5 miles per hour for 208 miles.
2019 Manitou 25 Legacy LT SHP Dual
With twin Evinrude E-TEC 300 HP engines
This 2019 luxury fiberglass pontoon model, tested in August in 10 MPH winds and medium chop, reached a top speed of 63.2 miles per hour and cruised at a fuel efficiency of 2.37 miles per gallon (capable of 192 miles at 30.8 MPH with 90% fuel capacity). The 25 Legacy LT accelerated in 3.8 seconds to plane.
Based in Lansing, Michigan, we’re lucky to be located near the Great Lakes. Whether you share that good fortune or are considering taking a trip with your boat to the area, you probably want to know if pontoon boats are suited for large bodies of water. In short: Yes.
You can take your pontoon boat into any of the Great Lakes, but you’ll have to consider a few additional precautions as compared to when you spend your time on inland lakes.
Because of the immense size of the Great Lakes, they vary a lot from inland lakes. On an inland lake, for instance, you’re always close enough to shore in case you need to retreat from weather. Waves can get a lot bigger on any of the Great Lakes, and the water is almost always rougher than an inland lake, even in mild conditions.
Since the Great Lakes are all freshwater, you won’t need to worry about the extra harshness of saltwater that you need to consider if taking your pontoon boat into the ocean. Still, a lot of the same general safety guidelines apply:
- Check the weather before venturing out. If conditions are going to be rough, or the waves are going to be too high, you’ll want to stay closer to the shore than normal—if you go out at all.
- Stay close enough to the shore to be able to get back safely in case the weather changes. Generally, on calm days, you’ll be safe within a couple miles of shore. On less calm days, plan accordingly.
- Make sure you have all the proper safety equipment on board, which you should be doing for all trips anyway.
What is a Safe Pontoon Boat Size for Great Lakes Boating?
Our tritoon boats are more stable than a conventional two-tube pontoon boats, and that advantage is amplified in the rougher conditions of larger bodies of water. You don’t need a tritoon boat on the Great Lakes, though. As long as you have large tubes (at least 25 inches in diameter), you should be okay to go into the Great Lakes.
Also consider the thickness of the sheet aluminum used to make tubes, as this can help with durability in rough conditions. Our tubes, at a minimum of .090 inches thick, are some of the most durable in the industry.
Finally, the more horsepower you have, the better. In case you need to cut through waves or return to shore quickly, having adequate power while on the Great Lakes is important. We recommend at least 150 HP when you’re out in open water.
Activities on the Great Lakes
Depending on the day, you can do pretty much anything on any of the Great Lakes that you can also do on an inland lake, but here are some of the best things to do on each of the five Great Lakes:
- Lake Michigan, especially on the Michigan side, possesses some of the best beaches in the country. It’s perfect for beaching your pontoon and spending a day enjoying the water.
- Lake Huron has a lot of boat traffic and also gives you easy access to many campgrounds along the east coast of Michigan. Just north of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, Mackinac Island sits in Lake Huron.
- Lake Ontario has perhaps the most recreational boat traffic of any of the Great Lakes and is also one of the best for fishing. You may see several of our angler boat models out there with you.
- Lake Erie is the warmest, making it ideal for skiing, tubing, or swimming as you cruise in your pontoon boat.
- Lake Superior is one of the best for sightseeing, but as the coldest and largest, is also the lake you need to be especially prepared for if you plan to pontoon on it.
A pontoon boat is one of the most versatile crafts on the water, and being able to take it onto the five lakes that make up the largest body of freshwater on earth is just one of the many perks. As long as you’re prepared and cautious, you might find yourself taking the pontoon boat out into the Great Lakes more and more often.
Before every trip out on the water, you should check (and double-check) to make sure you have the absolute necessities on board. These are the things you need on a pontoon boat that are not only required by law, but are also common sense and generally related to safety.
Additionally, there are plenty of nice-to-haves you will want on every trip.
When we say every trip, we mean every trip—especially when it comes to the needs. Whether you’re planning to spend 15 minutes or 10 hours on the lake, you absolutely must make sure you take all proper safety precautions.
For a quick guide on pontoon-boat safety, take a look at our Pontoon Boat Safety Checklist.
Pontoon Boat Necessities
Items you need to have on your pontoon boat are often things you hope never to need to use, but can keep you safe in case of an emergency. Some of these things, such as life jackets and flares, are required by law, and you definitely don’t want to (1) be caught without them when you need them or (2) face the fines and penalties if you’re caught without them by the Coast Guard.
- Boat registration and proof of insurance.
- Food and water. Pack more than enough non-perishable snacks and water for the trip.
- Life jackets for every passenger. Age-appropriate personal flotation devices (PFDs) need to be in good condition and readily available.
- Charged cell phone, in case you need to contact help.
- Signal devices such as flares and distress flags.
- Portable battery charger and flashlight.
- First-aid kit in a waterproof case stocked with gauze, antiseptic cream, bandages, scissors, latex or vinyl gloves, cotton balls, pain relievers, and tweezers. Anti-nausea tablets are a good idea, too.
Things That Are Nice to Have on Board
There are plenty of items that are not necessarily essentials, but definitely nice to have on your boat, whether for safety or convenience or to be kind to the environment. These include:
- Trash bag to prevent littering the water.
- Extra rope.
- Paddles, in case of engine failure.
- Change of clothes in a waterproof bag.
- Extra jackets or warm shirts.
- Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF protection.
- Pocket knife or tool kit.
- Hand sanitizer.
- Marine radio.
Primarily, check your local laws and make sure you have everything you need. This not only ensures you’re not at risk for fines or penalties, but because the laws only require things that are absolutely essential in an emergency, you’ll also have peace of mind knowing you have what you need.
After you make sure you’re compliant, add whatever you can to make your day on the water more enjoyable. Obviously, this includes fishing poles if you’re fishing, tubes if you’re tubing, food if you’re picnicking, etc.
Because pontoon boats are so versatile, you can do just about anything you want on the water. For the best experience, make sure you and your passengers have everything you need under any circumstances.
With any big purchase, buyers want to know they’re making a good investment. A “good investment” can mean a lot of things, though. To some, a good investment is money well spent, which could be as simple as paying $10 to see a great movie. To others, a good investment requires an appreciation of assets. Buy low, sell high.
When it comes to vehicles, both on land and on water, it’s generally accepted that the monetary value will depreciate shortly after purchase, and thus, a good investment requires getting a quality, reliable vehicle you can enjoy for years.
That perfectly describes a pontoon boat investment. You probably won’t be able to sell one for more than you paid for it, but you will get your money’s worth.
How Much Do Pontoon Boats Cost?
New pontoon boats can cost as little as around $15,000, and as much as $200,000+, depending on your accessories, amenities, engine, and anything else you may want to add. For a more in-depth breakdown of what you can expect to pay, read our post: All About Pontoon Boats.
How Much Does a Pontoon Boat Depreciate in Value?
It’s pretty well known that cars depreciate rapidly. As soon as you drive them off the lot, they’ve lost some monetary value. The same is true of pontoon boats; the value of your boat will depreciate a fair amount in the first couple years of ownership. After that, the value will depreciate by much less, eventually holding stable after about 12 years.
More good news: You’re not buying a pontoon boat for the same reason you’re buying a car. You’re buying it for the activities, memories, and fun, which can’t be assigned a fixed dollar value—you determine how much those things are worth.
What Contributes to a Pontoon Boat’s Resale Value?
Again, a pontoon boat’s trade-in value is similar to that of a car. The brand, age, amount of use, condition, and any number of add-ons or other amenities can contribute to the resale value.
In general, most pontoon boats depreciate at a similar rate, though, so a boat that costs $40,000 new will sell for a higher price used than a boat that originally cost $20,000.
For specifics, you can explore the boat pricing resources on NADAguides and other similar websites. Feel free to contact your local Manitou pontoon boat dealer, who can also help determine your pontoon’s resale value.
Should I Buy a Used Pontoon Boat?
When in the market for a pontoon boat, it’s definitely worth contemplating buying used, but you’ll need to ensure you’re getting a quality vehicle. Take a look at our Buying a Used Pontoon Checklist for some of the crucial areas you’ll want to consider.
Return on Investment
If you’re in it strictly to make money, buying a pontoon boat doesn’t make sense. You won’t be able to sell it for more than you buy it, but that’s pretty well understood by anyone who buys a vehicle of any kind.
Instead, the return of investment comes in all the fun, hours of entertainment, and memories you’ll enjoy with your boat. While your boat won’t appreciate in value, you can unquestionably get your value out of it, thereby giving you what many would consider the best kind of return on investment.
No one operating a watercraft of any size wants to get stuck, whether the vessel is as small as a personal watercraft or as massive as a cruise ship. Getting stuck can not only be harmful to your boat, but depending on the circumstances, can be extremely dangerous as well.
Thus, it’s important never to drive your pontoon boat into water that’s too shallow. Still, there are reasons you might want to get into shallow water, so it’s best to do so safely.
In general, you can probably take your pontoon boat into water as shallow as two feet of real depth, but this, of course, depends on several factors.
What is Real Depth?
Real depth is exactly as it sounds: The actual depth from the surface of the water to the floor of the lake or pond. Because of the way light refracts at the surface of the water, you can’t judge real depth simply by looking down (the perceived depth is called “apparent depth,”), so you must ensure a true measurement of real depth.
If your boat is equipped with a depth gauge, the water depth is likely read from the rear of the boat, so take that into account as you start approaching shallower depths.
Also, you should take special care to make sure the depth is consistent throughout the path you want to travel. If debris, seaweed, sandbars, or anything else get in the way, you lose your depth and risk getting stuck.
If you are unfamiliar with the waters, discuss potential hazards with other boaters who are accustomed to the area. Then proceed with caution.
Reasons to Take Your Pontoon Boat into Shallow Water
For some, maybe shallow water will never be a concern, as most of the activities you enjoy take place in deep water. Still, it’s likely you’ll be docking your boat in shallow water, or using a boat launch to get in and out. So, it’s important to know your depths wherever you go.
For those who enjoy fishing, you may find it advantageous to get into shallow water for your catch of the day. Likewise, if you want to spend some time on the beach during your voyage, it makes sense to anchor close to the beach, where the water is shallower, than to anchor way out and try to swim a ridiculous distance in (and then back out).
Precautions to Take in Shallow Water
When we mentioned two feet of real depth earlier, we were speaking in generalities, as we noted. Three feet is better, and four is better still, but as you get to know your boat and your habits, you’ll be able to find your confidence level.
Consider How Much Weight You Have on Board.
If two people had an easy time gliding through two feet of water, that doesn’t mean a full boat of 10 or 11 people will have the same carefree ride. Always take into account the weight of the people and objects on your boat before entering shallow water.
Consider Your Hull’s Draft.
With a hull that sits deeper in the water, you will need more leeway with the real depth of the water. Note that the hulls of triple hull pontoons in particular often sit lower; for example, the center tube on our V-Toon models is 5.25” lower than the outer tubes.
When you move into shallow water, make sure to trim up the engine, but don’t go all the way up (if you get stuck with the engine tilted as far as possible, you’re stuck for good). Try trimming up far enough that the propeller gulps for air, and then lower it a minimum of two inches. Check that the outboard is still spitting water out of the valve to ensure the engine does not overheat.
Finally, make sure your path doesn’t have any obstructions. Seeing underwater is difficult even when crystal clear, so be especially careful in darker waters.
Read Your Pontoon Boat Owner’s Manual.
The manufacturers specifically design their boats for your pleasure, and they want you to enjoy them as much as possible. Heed their recommendations, and if you have any questions at all about the capabilities of your pontoon boat or your future boat, feel free to contact your local dealer as well.
Pontoon boats wouldn’t be called the most versatile watercraft in the world if they weren’t customizable, right? Of course not. Especially with the advancements in manufacturing we enjoy today, you can customize your pontoon boat design to fit exactly what you like to do—whether it’s cruising and lounging, fishing, socializing, skiing and tubing, or anything else you can do on the water.
A Layout for Every Activity
When designing the layout of your pontoon boat, it’s important to determine how you plan to use your boat. While you can use it for everything listed above, you probably don’t need to incorporate any fishing seats or accessories if you don’t ever plan to fish, for example.
Whether you plan to design a boat for a single activity or create a layout that is optimized for several activities, you’ll be able to do it. Seating layouts that face each other (or don’t), create an open common area (or don’t), put you in prime position to catch fish (or don’t) will not only make your pontoon boat exactly how you envision it, but will also enhance your enjoyment on the water.
Consider the Length of the Boat and Deck
Pontoon boat floor plans must, obviously, fit within the size of your deck. As such, how you maximize your space depends crucially on your deck size. Most of our pontoon boats are available in 23-, 25-, and 27-foot lengths, allowing you to decide how much space you need for seating, storage, and open areas.
For reference, take a look at how a floor plan can vary between 23 and 27 feet on our 2018 Legacy LT SHP:
Types of Seating and Furniture
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you realize how many options there are, but it’s also easy to narrow your choices if you know how you’re going to use your boat. Choose from chairs, benches, lounge seats, fishing seats, seats with storage, seats that convert to tables, bars, stools, a sundeck, and more.
Fishing seats are essential for anglers, but probably take up too much space if you don’t fish. To build a comfortable floating living room, vary your benches and chairs to create ideal social settings. A sundeck is a popular option for almost any pontoon enthusiast, and you’ll probably want to leave a little extra room if you’re predominantly using your boat for water sports.
To see how a similar space can be used for different purposes, compare the Aurora, an ideal versatile model for new pontoon boaters, in 20 and 22 feet, with the Aurora Angler LE, in the same lengths, built specifically for fishing.
A Luxurious Ride
Are you looking for the ultimate in pontoon luxury? Seats that convert into sun lounges, elegant fiberglass touches, and a built-in swim platform can put you on the water in superior style.
Build the Boat You Want to Use
With so many options, buyers can get caught up in wanting a little bit of everything. That’s natural, and adding certain elements that enhance your many activities is a good idea, but your absolute best option is to design the boat you will want to use over and over. You need to focus on the features you will use most often, and design your floor plan to accommodate your boating lifestyle. When you do that, you will have dramatically enriched your summers for years to come.
Searching for your first pontoon boat doesn’t have to be overwhelming, even if it may seem like it at first. You know pontoon boats are the most versatile craft on the water, so whatever you get will be able to accommodate your specific desires. Still, you can hone in further to make sure you get the ideal boat for what you like to do, while maintaining the versatility that will allow you to enjoy other activities, as well.
Call it a “starter boat” if you want, but with all the possibilities available, you’ll consider yourself a boating veteran in no time.
What Do You Want to Do with Your Pontoon Boat?
If you plan to use your boat for skiing, tubing, and other water sports, you need to look into a model with a powerful engine and easy access in and out of the water.
Prefer lounging, entertaining, or fishing? If so, you can focus less on the boat’s power and more on its deck space, seating capacity and configuration, and specialty fishing accessories like a live well, fish locator, and fishing chairs.
Again, because pontoon boats are incredibly versatile, you won’t be sacrificing one activity in order to get another. Instead, think of it as maximizing the activities you will do most often.
For more of the basics to consider, check out Four Questions to Ask Before You Buy.
First Pontoon Boats: Get a Lot for a Little
One of the best features of pontoon boats—at all price levels—is how much you get relative to the cost. The value of a pontoon boat is unbeatable.
When looking for a starter boat, there are three Manitou models we recommend you look at right away, to get Manitou’s industry-leading performance at an affordable price:
Known as the most accessible pontoon boat on the water, the 2018 Aurora has all the craftsmanship and performance you expect from Manitou, but at the most attractive price in the line.
The most customizable Manitou line, Aurora LE, lets you choose exactly what you want while getting unmatchable performance at this price point.
Aurora Angler LE
Built for the fisherman, the Aurora Angler LE is extremely customizable and adaptable to all pontoon activities. This model gives you the fishing chairs and accessories you need to spend the day angling on the water.
Find Your Pontoon Model
Pontoon boats are versatile, accessible, and affordable. If you’re looking for your first pontoon boat, the Aurora models will give you value you can’t find anywhere else.